Alternatives to 'O Perfect Love'

A collection of recent hymns that invite the congregation to celebrate

Because a wedding is a joyous celebration for the invited guests as well as for the bride, groom, and family, many wedding ceremonies include congregational singing. Singing a hymn together gives the congregation the opportunity to express their praise and thanksgiving to God, to offer a prayer for the marriage, or even to participate in a processional or recessional.

A number of well-known hymns are appropriate, even though they were not written specifically for weddings. Those listed below can be found in most hymnals:

"Be Thou My Vision"
"Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation"
"Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee"
"Love Divine, All Loves Excelling"
"May the Grace of Christ Our Savior"
"Now Thank We All Our God" "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven"
"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"

Another source for congregational singing at weddings is the specific wedding music found in recently published hymn collections. These hymns—cast in contemporary, yet timeless, language—have a strength and beauty that add meaning to a ceremony. And although most of them are probably not familiar to the majority of guests at a wedding, they are still very singable when matched with familiar tunes (suggested below).

Since these hymns are so new, most are under copyright. But in many cases all that is needed to gain permission for a one-time use is a phone call to the publisher. Most publishers will charge a nominal fee for this use and will request that you print the appropriate credit in your wedding program.


As man and woman we were made
that love be found and life begun
so praise the Lord who made us two
and praise the Lord when two are one:
praise for the love that comes to life
through child or parent, husband, wife.

Now Jesus lived and gave his love
to make our life and loving new,
so celebrate with him today
and drink the joy he offers you
that makes the simple moment shine
and changes water into wine.

And Jesus died to live again
so praise the love that, come what may,
can bring the dawn and clear the skies,
and waits to wipe all tears away;
and let us hope for what shall be,
believing where we cannot see.

Then spread the table, clear the hall,
and celebrate till day is done;
let peace go deep between us all
and joy be shared by everyone:
laugh and make merry with your friends,
and praise the love that never ends!

Text: Brian Wren, 1973. (c) 1983 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


At Carta's wedding, long ago,
they knew his presence by this sign,
a virtue none but Christ could show,
to turn their water into wine—
and still on us his blessing be
as in the days of Galilee.

What if the way be far to go
and life at times a weary load?
Yet may our hearts within us glow
as theirs on that Emmaus road—
the risen Christ become our guest,
with him to walk, in him to rest.

O Lord of all our life below,
O risen Lord of realms above,
eternal joy be theirs to know,
united in the bond of love—
one in the faith, with one accord,
one with each other and the Lord.

Text: Timothy Dudley-Smith, 1976. (c) 1984 by Hope Publishing Company, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission. World outside USA (c) 1976 by Timothy Dudley Smith Suggested Tune: MELITA


Jesus, the Lord of love and life,
draw near to bless this man and wife;
as they are now in love made one, let your good will for them be done.

Give them each day your peace and joy,
let no dark clouds these gifts destroy;
in growing trust may love endure, to keep their marriage-bond secure.

As they have vowed to have and hold,
each by the other be consoled;
in wealth or want, in health or pain,till death shall part, let love remain.

Deepen, O Lord, their love for you,
and in that love, their own renew;
each in the other find delight,
as lives and interests now unite.

Be to them both a guide and friend,
through all the years their home defend;
Jesus the Lord of love and life,stay near and bless this man and wife.

Text: James E. Seddon. (c) 1982, Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Suggested Tunes: WINCHESTER NEW; HURSLEY


Surprised by joy no song can tell,
no thought can compass, here we stand
to celebrate eternal Love,
to reach for God's almighty hand.

Beyond an angel's mind is this,
best gift, alone to mortals given;
the love of parent, lover, friend
brings straight to earth the bliss of heaven.

Faith, hope and love here come alive;
God's very being is made known,
when giving and forgiving alltwo are inseparably one.

For all this splendor, all this joy
is ours because a Father's care —
large, generous, patient, strong as death —
showed us in Christ what love can dare.

Your banner over us be love,
your grace refresh our travelling days,
your power sustain, your beauty cheer,
our words, our home, our lives be praise!

Text: Erik Routley. (c) 1985 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Suggested Tunes: DUKE STREET;MELCOMBE


The grace of life is theirs
who on this wedding day
delight to make their vows
and for each other pray.
May they, O Lord, together prove
the lasting joy of Christian love.

Where love is, God abides:
and God shall surely bless
a home where trust and care
give birth to happiness.
May they, O Lord, together prove
the lasting joy of such a love.

How slow to take offense
love is! How quick to heal!
How ready in distress
to know how others feel!May they, O Lord, together prove
the lasting joy of such a love.

And when time lays its hand
on all we hold most dear,
and life, by life consumed,
fulfills its purpose here:May we, O Lord, together prove
the lasting joy of Christian love.

Text: Fred Pratt Green, (c) 1970, Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Suggested Tune: DARWALL'S 148th


Lord Jesus Christ, invited guest and Savior,
with tender mercy hear us as we pray;
grant our desire for those who seek your favor,
come with your love and bless them both today.

Give them your strength for caring and for serving,
give them your graces—faithfulness and prayer;
make their resolve to follow you unswerving,
make their reward your peace beyond compare.

Be their delight in joy, their hope in sorrow,
be their true friend in pleasure as in pain; guest of today and guardian of tomorrow,
turn humble water into wine again!

Text: Michael Perry, 1982. Credit: Book, (c) 1982, Hope Publishing Co.,Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Suggested Tune: O PERFECT LOVE


O God from whom mankind derives its name,
whose covenant of grace remains the same,
be with these two who now before you wait; enlarge the love they come to consecrate.

May through their union other lives be blessed;
their door be wide to stranger and to guest,
Give them the understanding that is kind, grant them the blessing of an open mind.

Preserve their days from inwardness of heart:
to each the gift of truthfulness impart.
Their bond be strong against all strain and strife amid the changes of this earthly life.

From stage to stage on life's unfolding way
bring to their mind the vows they make this day,
your spirit be their guide in every move; their faith in Christ the basis of their love.

Lord, bless us all to whom this day brings joy,
let no events our unity destroy, and help us,
till all sense of time is lost, to live in love and not to count the cost.

Text: Fred Kaan, 1968 (c) 1968, Hope Publishing Co.,
Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049. Used by permission.
Suggested Tunes: ELLERS; EVENTIDE


When love is found and hope comes home,
sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky, praise God and share our Maker's joy.

When love has flowered in trust and care,
build both each day that love may dare
to reach beyond home's warmth and light, to serve and strive for truth and right.

When love is tried as loved-ones change,
hold still to hope though all seems strange,
till ease returns and love grows wise through listening ears and opened eyes.

When love is torn and trust betrayed,
pray strength to love till torments fade,
till lovers keep no score of wrong but hear through pain love's Easter song.

Praise God for love, praise God for life,
in age or youth, in husband, wife.
Lift up your hearts. Let love be fed through death and life in broken bread.

Text: Brian Wren, 1978 (c)1983, Hope Publishing Co.,
Carol Stream, IL 60188, (800) 323-1049.
All rights reserved. Used by permission. Suggested Tunes: O WALY WALY; GIFT OF LOVE


Your love, O God, has called us here,
for all love finds its source in you;
the perfect love that casts out fear, the love that Christ makes ever new.

O gracious God, you consecrate
all that is lovely, good and true:
bless those who in your presence wait,
and every day their love renew.

O God of love, inspire our life,
reveal your will in all we do;
join every husband, every wife
in mutual love and love for you.

Text: Russell Schulz-Widmar (c) Russell Schultz-Widmar, P.O. Box 2247, Austin, TX 78768


Far more than passion's passing flame has fused our single
the vow we make in heaven's name one common future
Through sorrow, joy, temptation, strain, affliction, rapture,
Lord, let our vows endure and gain their meaning through
the years.

If time dilutes what we feel now
and rich desires thin,
may we by grace draw from our vow
the strength to love again.

Then at our death, O God accept
this lifelong gift of praise:
the witness of a promise kept
through all our married days.

Text: Thomas H. Troeger, 1985 (c) 1985, Oxford University Press, Inc., 200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10016, (212) 679-7300. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Suggested Tune: ST. ANNE


May the Lord, our great Creator,
bless you this day;
give you peace and hope and courage
along your way. May you stay within God's keeping
in your walking, in your sleeping,
in your joy, and in your weeping.
God be with you.

Text: Unknown
Tune: AR HYD Y NOS (All Through the Night)

Note: See also two new wedding hymns in the Psalter Hymnal: "Lord, Today Bless This New Marriage" and "Praised Be the Father"

Roy Hopp is the director of music at Zion RCA, Grandville, Michigan, and the composer of over twenty hymn tunes that have been published in the united States and Great Britain.


Reformed Worship 16 © June 1990, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.